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Bulgaria: Gasoline Prices Reduced, Other Prices Raised

Sofia, 31 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - In a surprise move, Bulgaria's interim Cabinet today reduced the price of gasoline by nearly nine percent. Bulgaria has suffered a fuel-shortage crisis for months. The Cabinet also ordered a report, within two weeks, on the influence of a full liberalization of fuel prices.

At the same time, the government announced steep new increases in the cost of electricity, with households to pay about 35 percent more. The government noted that one of the main reasons for large losses reported by the national electricity company is the failure of state-owned companies to pay their bills. The Cabinet also announced a 30 percent increase in the price of coal, and a 70 percent increase in the cost of heating.

Interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofianski last week said all wages in Bulgaria would be increased 70 percent as of tomorrow, and that a new social security system would be created.